HC Deb 28 October 1999 vol 336 cc1088-9
9. Ms Chris McCafferty (Calder Valley)

What direct consultation his Department has had with personal advisers working on the new deal for disabled people pilots. [94258]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment (Ms Margaret Hodge)

Ministers and officials have frequent contact with the Employment Service and with the private sector, local authority and voluntary sector contractors which deliver the pilot for my Department. I have also visited many of the pilot areas and met personal advisers from all pilot areas.

Ms McCafferty

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Can she assure me that personal advisers for disabled people who wish to participate in the new deal receive disability awareness training? Can she further assure me that there is effective monitoring of the treatment of and the help given to disabled people on the new deal, through, for example, exit surveys or interviews? Does that happen? What efforts are the Government making to ensure that disabled people who can work and who want to work are better off working, given their clear extra needs?

Ms Hodge

I think that my hon. Friend asked three questions. First, there is specific training for personal advisers. We have the ambition that all personal advisers working on the new deal for disabled people should reach NVQ level 3. Ten per cent. of personal advisers are themselves disabled. They receive extensive training in all the areas that they need to cover.

On monitoring, we are closely and comprehensively evaluating the pilot new deal for the disabled. Loughborough university is undertaking a study and initial findings will be reported at the end of this year, with the full findings next year. The study includes, for example, surveys of clients who have participated in the new deal, group discussions and in-depth interviews. There will be plenty of feedback.

We have several initiatives on making work pay for disabled people. This week, my right hon. Friends the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Social Security launched the disabled persons tax credit, which will make work pay. We have introduced a linking rule to make it easier for disabled people to move from benefit into work. There are also initiatives such as jobfinders grants and a fast track to the disabled persons tax credit—all of which support disabled people in their move from benefit dependency to work.